According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there are approximately 260 wrong way accidents in the U.S. each year, which cause an average 360 fatalities. As Kansas City car accident lawyers, we know that crashes caused by wrong way drivers are more likely to cause critical injuries and fatalities than other kinds of accidents. More often than not, these crashes are head-on collisions, which result in more motorist fatalities than any other kind of car accident. In a head-on collision, the front ends of the vehicles slam into each other, and the combined force from both moving vehicles makes the impact immense.
Sometimes, wrong way crashes are caused by drivers who are simply confused: they lose their bearings, and find themselves going the wrong direction on a divided highway or a one-way street. Sometimes, bad road conditions (due to weather or maintenance) play a role. However, alcohol and/or drugs are a particularly common factor in a large number of these kinds of accidents. Other possible causes include dangerous passing, lane departure due to driver distraction, and failing to negotiate a curve in the roadway, but these scenarios are more common on two-lane roads than on divided highways.
Safety advocates advise that you take whatever actions are possible to avoid a head-on collision, even if it means driving into the ditch. Here are a few tips to help you in the event an oncoming vehicle strays into your lane:
- Slow down immediately. Be prepared to stop, or to pull onto the shoulder when needed.
- When you have to make a split-second decision, go right: the other driver is mostly likely to go to your left when he or she attempts to regain control. Also, steering right will decrease the force of the collision if impact is inevitable. If you can keep at least 2 wheels on the pavement, that's the best case scenario. However, taking all 4 wheels onto the shoulder is preferable to a head-on collision.
According to theZenith.com, "if the choice is between a head-on and hitting a fixed object such as a tree or utility pole, it's always safer to hit the fixed object, which has no momentum of its own."
- Be sure to wear your seat belt. It's always a good practice - and it's state law - but in a head-on collision, it can also mean the difference between life and death.